Commemoration of the Arrival of Indentured Labourers Day, celebrated in Mauritius every 2 November, remembers the arrival of indentured Indian labourers to the islands back in 1834.
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This took place only 20 years after Mauritius had become a British colonial possession, in 1814. And it happened just one year after slavery was abolished in all the British Empire in 1833.
There were more slaves than freemen in Mauritius at the time of the banning of slavery in 1833, though the emancipation wasn’t put into effect in Mauritius itself until 1835. The large sugar plantations in the islands had to be worked some other way, so indentured servants from India had to be brought in.
These immigrants were often eager to go and live in Mauritius, though they had to work off their fare for years after arriving there. Too often, they were mistreated, tricked, and paid very little. But it was still considered better than slavery.
Indentured Labourers Day is meant to celebrate the great contribution Indian immigrants and their descendants have made to Mauritius over the years. Today, two-thirds of the population are of Indian descent, so it is almost like a “national culture day”.